12 Idiomatic Expressions Related to Sleep

Do you fall asleep easily or does it take you ages?  Does the slightest noise wake you up or do you sleep very deeply?  Do you love waking up early or do you relish sleeping late into the morning?  We spend, on average, a third of our lives sleeping but how much language do you have in your repertoire to talk about this fundamental human activity? 

There are numerous idiomatic expressions which are used in the UK to talk about how people fall asleep, the length and quality of sleep.  In this blog post, we summarise twelve which are commonly used.  These fixed expressions may not make much sense when translated word for word; this is why you should learn them as ‘chunks’ of language.  Repetition will help you memorise them and this can take the form of writing example dialogues and practising them out loud, as well as copying them onto cards and sticking them around your room where you will see them on a regular basis.  You might also want to look up a translation and see if there are equivalent expressions in your first language.  Remember to listen out for these idioms and find opportunities to use them in your everyday interactions and practice in English. 

  1. get off to sleep  =  manage to fall asleep

We finally got off to sleep around midnight.

  1. hit the sack  =  go to bed

A         It’s been a long day so I’m gonna hit the sack.

B          Ok, see you in the morning.


  1. tuck someone in  =  put a child into their bed, making them comfortable & ready to sleep

I read my daughter a bedtime story every night and then tuck her in.

  1. Sleep tight!  =  sleep well (a way of saying ‘goodnight’ to someone)

A         Goodnight!

B          Sleep tight!  See you in the morning.


  1. out like a light  =  fall asleep immediately

I was so tired that as soon as I got into bed, I was out like a light.

  1. sleep like a baby  =  sleep very deeply and peacefully

I always sleep like a baby when I’m on holiday.

  1. sleep like a log  =  sleep very deeply, nothing can wake you

A         So you didn’t hear any of last night’s thunderstorm?

B          Nope.  I always sleep like a log.


  1. not sleep a wink  = not sleep at all

A         Are you ok?

B          Not really – I didn’t sleep a wink last night.


  1. toss and turn  =  experience restless sleep with lots of moving around – usually because you are ill or stressed

My partner’s got the flu and was tossing and turning all night.

  1. a light sleeper  =  a person who wakes up easily in the night

I’m a light sleeper – the slightest noise wakes me up.

  1. up at the crack of dawn  =  get up very early

He gets up at the crack of dawn and goes for a run before work.

  1. have a lie-in  =  stay in bed longer than usual

I always have a lie-in on Sunday mornings. 


Have you heard any of these idiomatic expressions before?  Choose your 3 favourite and try to use them this week. 



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